Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ron Wayne sez do your homework

In every endeavor some people take more risks than others.  Some of you are doing an amazing job and will be remembered whenever people speak of this project (there's a Shakespearean preview for your next memorization-- let me know if you get it).  Anyway, I was thinking about this last night when I fell asleep.  Then Ron Wayne came to me in a dream and told me to tell you his story.  No, not John Wayne.  RON Wayne.  I hadn't heard of him either.  But he directed me to p.65 of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and this is what I found:

[After agreeing to partner with Jobs and Wozniak in exchange for a 10% ownership stake in Apple...]
Wayne then got cold feet.  As Jobs started planning to borrow and spend more money, he recalled the failure of his own company.  He didn't want to go through that again.  Jobs and Wozniak had no personal assets, but Wayne (who worried about a global financial Armageddon) kept gold coins hidden in his mattress.  Because they had structured Apple as a simple partnership rather than a corporation, the partners would be personally liable for the debts, and Wayne was afraid potential creditors would go after him.  So he returned to the Santa Clara County office just eleven days later with a "statement of withdrawal" and an amendment to the partnership agreement.  "By virtue of a re-assessment of understandings by and between all parties," it began, "Wayne shall hereinafter cease to function in the status of partner."  It noted that in payment for his 10% of the company, he received $800, and shortly afterward $1,500 more.

Had he stayed on and kept his 10% stake, at the end of 2010 it would have been worth approximately $2.6 billion.  Instead he was then living alone in a small home in Pahrump, Nevada, where he played the penny slot machines and lived off his social security check.

Do your homework.


  1. Inspiring. I almost feel like jumping at chance to partner with some friends in a crazy scheme on the off chance I might make an easy billion. One thing being 18 has taught me is that casinos are far from glamorous, there is no Zach Galifianakis counting cards, nor George Clooney scouting out exits. And penny slots suck.

  2. Well-said. I once had a client in the CA card room biz; a typical table included two or three down-on-their-luck types who looked bummed and exhausted as they watched their last $11 of rent money being raked away. At least they got to leave with a headache full of cheap liquor and stale smoke. Ugh.